I’ve taken a dozen startups from $0 to $2MM+ in ARR, mentored more than 200 startups and taught thousands. Here’s how I teach building a battle-tested and ready to go acquisition funnel in as little as 9 weeks that will scale from $0 to millions.
Note that it’ll take more than 9 weeks to scale up to $1MM+. But the funnel you build here is the foundation that will get you there.
The Grow to Market process in brief
Grow to market in the CrowdTamers fashion is a 3-stage process.
- Validate messaging and audience
- Build & normalize revenue channels
- Scale & perform
We’re gonna be talking about Step 1 here: Validate messaging and audience. We’re building that funnel and stress-testing it today. 9 weeks from today, for less than $4,600, you could be ready to launch your next startup with proof that it works.
Each week, you’ll want to run a round of experiments that will teach you something critical about your business. For Twitter abbreviation, I’m gonna call each of the an Experiment Round (ER). Here’s all 9 of them.
The funnel build & test:
🧪 Experiment Round (ER) 1 – Persona differentiation – $600 budget👉 Who most wants this app – basic demographic targeting on FB & Twitter🧠 What we should learn – What our best persona tends to look like
👆 You need to know who you sell to so start by pointing your ads at different groups of people who you think are likely to care: https://crowdtamers.com/building-a-top-of-funnel-test-campaign-on-facebook/
🧪 ER2 – Persona differentiation 2 – $400 budget👉Further tests on persona, geography on FB & Twitter. Possible tests on LinkedIn🧠 What we should learn – Build 1 – 3 ideal customers.
👆 Geography can make a big difference in CPA. Not just at a country level, but even at state & city. If you have a strong industry focus, find the best cities to advertise in and see if that improves CPA
🧪 ER3 – Key feature differentiation – $600 budget👉 What does the market want to see from this app? Basic tests on Twitter & FB🧠 What we should learn: Key USP for your product
👆 This step starts with execution as I outlined here: https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1367556504925179909 You’ve got to have a landing page (or a few) before you can do it. Go follow those steps before you try and tackle ER3.
🧪 ER4 – Key feature differentiation 2 – $400 budget👉 Refining language for the key features on Twitter & FB🧠 What we should learn: Language & key buzzwords that are most responsive
👆 This is an edit of ER3; you should have some idea what was working after ER1; put some work into refining it here.
🧪 ER5 – Positioning – FB & Twitter, $400👉 Look & feel; what visuals are most performative for potential leads on display ads🧠 What we should learn: Visual identity that drives top of funnel clicks.
👆 When you talk about “Branding” most folks think “visuals”. There’s a reason that I’m tackling this in ER5 and not before. Check out the excellent Obviously Awesome by @aprildunford, or read my take at: http://crowdtamers.com/your-brand-sucks-if-you-dont-do-these-5-things/
🧪 ER6 – Positioning 2 – Google Search, $600👉 Messaging & Intent – Driving traffic via Google Search; what keywords are performative? 🧠 What we should learn – What channels are the best place to demonstrate our value?
👆 Google keyword research is a huge resource of data on what people are actually looking for on the Internet. You can do a lot with the keyword planner tool, or a high-quality SEM tool like @semrush, but nothing compares to actually buying clicks & seeing outcomes.
🧪 ER7 – Positioning 3 – $800 budget👉Competitive tests of FB, Twitter, LI, and Google search: which channels are driving the best leads, cheapest?🧠 What we should learn – Estimated 1st CAC
👆 This is the big spend of the whole project. By now you should have honed your messaging & found the best targeting to maximize your cost per click. Run head-to-head tests of different channels to see which delivers the highest ROI.
🧪 ER8 – Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – 1 channel, $400👉What do we need to improve on our landing page? Test 3 different landing pages to track CPA.🧠 What we should learn – What makes a page convert. The best page here should be >33% better CPA than ER7.
👆 Bottom of the funnel optimization is crucial; once you’re focusing on that, you’ll quickly find easy wins that make big differences. Don’t settle for minor improvements from your first tests; iterate 2 or 3 times around on this ER if you must.
🧪 ER9 – CRO 2 – 1 channel, $400👉Iteration & improvement; building a final sensible model for CPA🧠 What we should learn – “True to life” CPA; the number we develop here should be +/- 30% of the actual product CPA
👆 True to life CPA for a paying customer is almost impossible to predict, but a well-modeled funnel up to this point will end up converting to something like at least 30% as well as this funnel you’ve built. Maybe better!
This is a lot of work, but at the end of all of this, you’ll have: 👉 Core messaging👉 Target Audience👉 Visuals👉 Rough cost per acquired leadWhich should be enough to take your startup idea to the next level.
For less than $5k, you can know with pretty high confidence if your next idea is gonna work or not. That’s a bargain, since it can save you hundreds or thousands of hours chasing ideas that will never work.
This has worked for me a half dozen times; I’ve iterated into it across a dozen startups over the last decade & if you stick with it, learn what the data has to tell you, and move quickly, you’ll build a funnel that can scale your SaaS startup to $1MM ARR or beyond, all based on the lessons you learned in this humble little exercise. 🙂